More Thoughts on Fusion

Tribal Fest 2012 is now over, and the videos are rolling in.  So, apparently, are the negative comments.  I’ve tried to keep myself out of it as much as possible, because 1) I don’t have the time, and 2) it’s infuriating and I don’t need my head to explode.

Why is there such a problem with tribal fusion belly dance?  Why do so many dancers either hate it or love it?

I’ve blogged about this before and seen some snarky comments about “oh, I’m an *artist* so I can do what I want” blah, blah, blah.  This is a really negative and childish attitude to take, and doesn’t help the already not-so-great image of belly dance.  Yes, ALL dancers are artists, and we can do whatever we want, within reason.  If I want to “I’ll wrap my small intestines ’round my neck/And set fire to myself on stage” because I “perform this way.*”  Dance is an art, and art is about creativity.  We aren’t going to stop dancing just because a few people can’t expand their horizons and appreciate the art, skill, and talent that goes into tribal fusion, even if they don’t particularly care for it.

I’m not going to retread my entire previous blog post, because you can just go read that.  But I will say this, and put it in bullets to make it clearer:

  • Belly Dance is already a fusion art.  Even “traditional” dance has movements from different cultures and art forms.  Modern belly dance wasn’t conceived of, fully formed, in a vacuum.  If you don’t believe me, watch this video and then ask yourself if this is how YOU belly dance (and gee…that certainly looks like an ommi to me…)  For comparison, here is a modern Egyptian belly dancer. Don’t much look the same, do they?
  • “Art isn’t safe” (a quote I heard from Rob Zombie).  If it makes you angry, I’ve done my job.  Art–including dancing–speaks to our emotions, and it doesn’t always have to be the happy, safe, glittery kind of emotions.  I’ve seen belly dance so beautiful, I’ve cried.  I’ve seen belly dance so powerful I was riveted to my seat and wouldn’t have noticed if I had started drooling.  Fusion dancers: when some narrow-minded person tells you that what you are doing isn’t belly dance, just keep the thought, “They felt something, so I did my job,” in mind.  At least they are watching your videos and commenting on them.
  • If you don’t like it, DON’T WATCH IT.  And don’t be a jerk and make negative comments.  It devalues all of us.  At least respect the skill and the time that went into learning and perfecting the movements, picking out the music, doing the choreography (yes, fusion dancers often choreograph), rehearsing, pulling together the costuming, putting on the makeup, getting over the stage fright, and opening our hearts and souls to the audience.  For many of us (introverts), sharing our art is giving you a peek into our souls.  Don’t devalue that by commenting, “That isn’t belly dance!  I hate fusion.”

I’m going to go take some deep breaths now to calm down.  In the meantime, don’t forget to go read my full blog on this subject.

*Lyrics from Weird Al’s “Perform This Way”

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About Kamrah

Kamrah is a belly dancer in Chicago, IL. They started belly dance as an exercise routine but it turned into a passion for dance that has not lessened, even after more than a decade. They have a powerful presence on the stage, and is particularly known for their amazing shimmies. Kamrah is also known as a very versatile belly dancer, and audiences have come to expect the unexpected from them. Performances can be anything from traditional Egyptian, to tribal fusion, to fantasy cosplay (costume play) pieces.

2 responses to “More Thoughts on Fusion”

  1. Intermittante says :

    “Belly Dance is already a fusion art. Even “traditional” dance has movements from different cultures and art forms. Modern belly dance wasn’t conceived of, fully formed, in a vacuum. If you don’t believe me, watch this video and then ask yourself if this is how YOU belly dance (and gee…that certainly looks like an ommi to me…) For comparison, here is a modern Egyptian belly dancer. Don’t much look the same, do they?”

    That paragraph just led me through a 1.5 hour stroll through youtube watching retro videos of gorgeous long gone dancers.. ❤

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